Known for his time on ‘Roswell,’ starring on ‘CSI: Miami’ and playing Booth’s brother on ‘Bones,’ Brendan Fehr can currently be seen showcasing his doctor skills on NBC’s new medical drama ‘The Night Shift.’
Revolving around the medical team at San Antonio Memorial, which is also surrounded by military bases, these medical professionals deal with the everyday hospital troubles. The staff is also one that includes several ex-military. Enter Fehr’s character, Drew Alister. Not only is he a former Army medic, he’s now a doctor dealing with the stresses that come with the job and the night shift.
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At first, and as shown in the first episode, Drew seems to be quite the ladies man, who is rough, tough and dabbles in mixed martial arts. However, it’s quickly revealed that Drew is keeping a secret -- he’s gay.
Yesterday, TVRage chatted with Fehr about his new show, playing a gay character and what we can expect from Drew and his upcoming struggles. See what he had to say.
TVRage: To start, how would you say this show differs from other medical dramas, past and present, and why people should tune in?
Brendan Fehr: Well, in terms of past medical dramas, I don’t know. Everyone’s got a different opinion on what they like and what they don’t like. Some people think ours is closer to ‘ER.’ Some think it’s closer to ‘Grey’s.’ Others think it has a little ‘Scrubs’ in there. I didn’t watch a lot of those -- I don’t watch a lot of television, in general, so I don’t know exactly how it compares. I just know how it compares in terms of how people talk about it. They’re just kind of generalizations about those other shows. But, I think we got a little bit of everything in there and you can throw in a little ‘M.A.S.H.’ as well, in terms of the military aspect. You’re just trying to make something that’s a little bit different. Obviously, you always have your medical dramas, your cop shows and your lawyer shows. Inevitably, the process is the same -- someone’s going to get sick and you gotta save them. You know, someone did something bad and you gotta go arrest them and convict them.
So, you’re trying to make the whole thing different and original and unique with the characters. I feel like that’s the strength of our show -- the diversity of the cast, they’re backgrounds both as as people and as actors, just everything that they bring to the table. It’s a group that you want to hang out with more than you want to simply watch them. You kind of want to participate. You don’t want to be so much a viewer. As the show goes on, these are the kind of people in a group setting where you’re gonna want to hang out with these people. And, you’re going to kind of want to be in there with them. I think that’s something that maybe ‘M.A.S.H.’ had more than anything else. I think, as actors, we’re trying to bring the people -- we want them to have a more participatory experience and that’s where the camaraderie comes in. The fact that we have our disagreements amongst ourselves and everything else, we have that element of brotherhood that’s typical of a military unit.
TVRage: Let's talk your character, Drew. As we saw in the first episode, he's hiding that he's gay. Except for TC (Eoin Macken), who already knows. Moving forward, how will we see Drew deal with this?
Fehr: It comes to a head later on in the season when -- and I don’t want to give too much away, I think some of it’s already out there -- but when a person from his past comes into the fold. You’re going to see him deal with it like you’d see anyone else deal with a secret that they don’t want anyone else to know. They’re going to try to keep it under wraps. You’re just gonna see that struggle of when you connect with these people (his co-workers), when people become your friends and they become loyal to you, you want to be able to tell them everything about yourself. You want to be able to share who you are, what you like, what you don’t like. That’s what bonds us as individuals. The fact that he’s got to keep this big part of himself a secret, especially with Krista (Jeananne Goossen) in an upcoming episode, you’re gonna see it wear on him. It’s something that he’s really gonna struggle with.
It was interesting for me to play, because I can only imagine just not being able to be who you are or who you think you are or kind of who you want to be. It’s hard not to be yourself in this world. It’s a tough world and there’s tough decisions. When you know who you are, it’s still a little bit of an ordeal at times. When you gotta keep a secret, it’s a lot to shoulder. I like seeing the way it came out. We accelerated a little bit, just because of the eight-episode order, and you never know if you’re coming back. So, the whole process was accelerated a little bit for the viewers, but, inevitably, it’s a great story and you do see it, I’m not sure if it’s resolved, per say … everything is kind of revealed. It’ll be good, and it’ll be interesting to see how people respond.
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TVRage: As you said, he’s struggling and it’s affected him personally. But, how will this secret affect Drew’s work? Obviously, he’s successful and he’s made it this far without telling others, but will we start to see it take a toll on his work?
Fehr: Yes and no. Especially come Episode -- I always get them mixed up -- but about 5 or 6 you do see there is a conflict at one point that he’s gotta overcome. It’s not so much that it affects his work, but it affects him at work. He’s obviously worried that it’ll affect his work, just in terms of the upcoming episodes, he reveals that his job isn’t guaranteed with the laws in Texas and the board of the hospital, he can be let go if they decide they don’t want a homosexual working. And, his patients might have a problem with it. So, that’s a big worry for him because he loves doing what he does, he loves saving lives. It’s really what he wants to do and that’s kind of taken away from him. That’s as much a part of who he is as everything else. That would be a blow, and that’s one of the reasons he keeps it a secret.
TVRage: Finally, Drew and TC seem to have a tight friendship. It hasn't been touched on yet, but did they meet in the service, or just became close while working at the same hospital?
Fehr: We actually don’t know. It’s never been discussed. Obviously, TC and Topher (Ken Leung) have worked overseas together. TC was probably kicked out of the Army by the time I got in, but he was a guy -- from what I’ve created in my head -- he was a guy who had legendary status or was at least infamous, depending on the people in the military you talk to. (laughs) Amongst the soldiers and the medics and all that stuff, just kind of things he pulled off and the things that he went through, I just imagine that Drew’s heard about him in some way, shape or form. He...possibly modeled himself [after TC], given the stories, and then had the opportunity to work alongside him with his residency. I think more if it is that they have a bond, because of the military background. From what I have gathered, because we haven’t talked about it too much, is they met in the hospital -- it would’ve been their first meeting. They bonded over the fact that they’ve taken similar paths.
Be sure to catch a brand new episode of ‘The Night Shift’ tonight at 10/9c on NBC.